We know there is no point in delaying marriage until after we graduate. The problem is my dad always tells me I should wait until I’m at least 27 or 28 until I get married (he got married at 30) and that I “probably haven’t even met the girl I’m going to marry.”
I know he is being somewhat realistic, but he also says that he thinks my girlfriend is great for me. I just can’t stand how he essentially says that my relationship right now doesn’t matter because I probably won’t marry her, and I shouldn’t even think about it anyway.
I am almost 20 and as of the last few months, almost completely financially independent from my parents (I’m still on their health insurance, that’s it). I am just worried that 10-12 months down the line I am going to go to my dad and tell him I want to get married, and he will be completely against it.
I don’t plan on popping the question anytime soon but still, with the thought in mind that a relationship should move toward marriage and that I’m not going to date a girl for several years before I marry her, how should I go about telling this to my dad so he will accept the fact that I am serious about my relationship with my girlfriend?
One of two things is going on, maybe both. One could be that your dad’s marriage “philosophy,” for lack of better word, is different from yours. By that I mean that his starting point for whether to marry is first “be in your late 20’s, at least.” If that’s the case, I’m sure he believes he has good reasons for holding that position, probably most of them related to his own experiences and those of other people he knows. And unfortunately, it is in fact true that many singles, because of their extended adolescence, are not ready for marriage until their late 20’s and into their 30’s.
But, let’s be quick to add that that is not the ideal by any means. My guess is that this is mostly a default position for your dad, given his observation of most young people (and, again, his own experience, as you mention).
The other thing that might be going on is this: He knows you well and his advice is specifically targeted to you based on what he observes in your life. In other words, maybe he believes for some reason that, yes, some people could marry earlier, but not you. This would strike me a bit odd since your description of yourself seems to indicate quite a bit of maturity; but of course, I only know you from a 248-word e-mail, and your dad knows you from 19 years of life. And he knows this girl, at least better than I do.
Bottom line: Don’t blow off your dad’s concerns. Talk to him about them. Are they warranted? Does he see specific areas in your life that he believes indicate that you are not ready for marriage? Does he have question marks about the girl you’re dating? Is financial stability a concern? Or, does his position have nothing to do with you or her specifically, but more “Nobody should get married before they’re 27″?
If it’s the latter, then your task is to help him have a paradigm shift. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but I think with patience and understanding, the two of you can come to some agreement on the issue. You’ll have to convince him that you are not the typical 20-year-old who wants to goof off for the next 7 years, but that you have focus and direction, and part of that is moving toward marriage.
Part of convincing him of your maturity will be how you handle this issue. Whining and blowing up will only convince him he’s right. On the other hand, patient, methodical communication will support your position.
Copyright 2007 John Thomas. All rights reserved.